I’ve received many questions from people wanting to start raw cat food but are unsure about mixing raw with wet or dry food. Let me address these questions.
Can you feed raw food with dry kibble?
No. Dry food and raw food should not be fed in the same meal as it can be dangerous. Basically the digestive system processes dry food as a carbohydrate and raw/wet food as a protein. So consuming them together can result in digestive confusion which often leads to gassiness, vomiting, diarrhea or worse.
Can you mix raw food with wet food?
Yes, as long as the wet food is of moderate to high quality. The only reason you would feed them in the exact same meal is to help transition a cat from wet food to raw. (See transition post)
A more common need is if you’ve been feeding raw food all week or month and you run out and will prepare a new batch soon. In the meantime you can feed your cat commercial wet food. This is fine given that the canned food is high in protein and low (or zero) grains and vegetables.
Why do you feed both raw and wet food?
I feed around 95% raw food. There are occasions when I feed canned. When I run out of raw (which is about every 4 weeks), I feed canned for 1-3 days until I make a new batch to add some variety. I try to buy canned food from proteins that I do not prepare myself such as rabbit, lamb or duck. Also if I am gone for a night and I have a neighbor come and care for my cat sometimes I’ll have them give canned food. Its not that its any easier but I don’t have to worry about them giving too much or leaving some in the dish for too long. I also only buy complete foods rather than complementary.
Also if I am gone for a night and I have a neighbor come and care for my cat sometimes I’ll have them give canned food. It’s not that it’s any easier but this way I don’t have to worry about them giving too much or leaving some in the dish for too long.
Cats have addictive personalities. They can become addicted to eating a particular flavor, smell, texture, size, etc. Inversely, they can become stubborn about trying new flavors, smells, etc. Therefore I believe it’s important to expose your cat to different types of food so they recognize them as food and are willing to try new foods.
But isn’t it bad to change a cat’s food because they will get sick?!
That depends. Yes, if you have a 12 year old cat that has only eaten one kibble food its entire life, changing his food will upset his stomach and he will most likely get sick. Therefore the change needs to be done slowly. However if you have a healthy young cat that has been exposed to different foods and has developed a healthy GI track, they can handle the change and variety of foods and in fact it is very healthy for them.
If you spent half of your life eating donuts and candy and then eat some vegetables and a salad, you would likely feel sick. That’s not because the vegetables are bad for you it’s because your GI track is not healthy and robust. The same can be applied to cats.
My cat, Cornelius’ experience:
I brought Cornelius home at at almost 5 months. He was being fed mostly dry kibble with the occasional wet food as a treat. The first 3 days at my home I left him on the kibble he was eating because I didn’t want him to adjust to a new home and new food at the same time. The first 24 hours in my home he had diarrhea but I account that more to the stress of being somewhere new and separated from his litter mates.
After 3 days I began feeding him various wet foods. I tried several different brands and flavors. I did this for a little over a week before I purchased a grinder and started started preparing home made raw. I offered him small chicken bones, he played with them a little but would not try to eat. I gave up very quickly, in retrospect I wish I would have tried insisted a bit more. But honestly a ground raw diet is more practical, easier, and cleaner, all things that benefit me and not my cat I know, but its true.
So at just over 5 months he was now eating 95% home prepared raw ground food. With the occasional wet food a couple times a month. He does not get diarrhea or vomit (although if I feed the wet food for a couple days I do notice the poop smells much worse). He has had the occasional hairball being a long-haired cat, but I have found coconut oil has really stopped that.
I hope that helps clear things up. Please leave any other questions in the comments.